An art exhibition, trailing the Trappists, pays tribute to the contribution the enigmatic Order of Catholic monks made to KwaZulu-Natal 135 years ago.

Sixteen artists from KwaZulu-Natal participated in the project which began five years ago.

Taking inspiration from history, the outstations and mission stations in southern KwaZulu-Natal, built by the monks between 1882 and 1902, is the focus of the artwork.

Architecture, scenery, people all combined in a reflection of the building skills and influence of the monks.

An exhibition which is hoped will help preserve these buildings as an important national heritage.

The Mariannhill Monastery, which plays host to the exhibition, was established in 1882 by the Austrian monk, Father Francis Pfanner.

He headed the enigmatic and what was seen as a strict Trappist order of the Catholic church today a modern catholic church.

From here the monks established 23 monasteries.

Maggie Strachan, one of the artists says,“Everybody has responded differently to different things, it’s been a spiritual journey, people have connected with the environment, some with the architecture , art, the artefacts, the people and it’s amazing heritage that we have is a treasure that’s accessible , every one of these buildings what was once a day’s horse ride away, so they all in this area.”

Besides establishing Christianity, the monks also imparted skills of bricklaying and blacksmithing in communities.

Another artists, Bridget Clutten says, “I work with portraiture. I took the opportunity to get some photos from the archives and reproduce them in chalk and charcoal, just to show the relationship between people, a priest and a little child, Abbot Francis and his relationship with children, which conveys his relationship with the community.”

The exhibition can be viewed at the Mariannhill Monastery in Pinetown till the 13th of November.